I get this question often! Often, we are not in touch with finding energy outside of stimulants so that’s what I thought I’d share some info about this month.
Many people start their day with a cup of coffee, or FIVE. I also encounter people who are drinking energy drinks and pre-workout, not just for gym workouts but to “get by” day to day. Consuming high amounts of caffeine (over 400 mg for women and 600 mg for men) can be detrimental in a variety of ways and your body will become dependent on caffeine to function. Just as many of us grab a couple glasses of wine or beer to relax at the end of the day. It’s a vicious cycle that can impact your adrenal function long term.
Depending on caffeine to combat low energy isn’t getting to the root cause of your issues: WHY YOU’RE TIRED. The body can also build a tolerance to caffeine which interferes with natural energy production and high-quality sleep. Thus, it’s important to pinpoint the cause of the low energy in the first place, or what I like to call ROOT CAUSE.
Often, we are eating high carb meals and feel a dip in blood sugar an hour or so after that meal, which leads to sluggishness. (Think PBJ, waffles, a bagel, cookies, etc) . Often the fatigue may cause you to reach for something sugary, a soda, or cause a headache or food cravings. A solution for this is reducing carb intake to 100-150g day max and spreading the carbs evenly through the day paired with protein and fat.
I also regularly see people who are deficient in a wide variety of vitamins that cause fatigue. The most popular are iron, b12, D, magnesium, copper, and Co Q10. Deficiencies can also be rooted in a diet too low in calories or actual whole foods nutrition. Is your diet mostly fresh veggies, fruits, and meats/protein or are you having a grilled cheese, apple and chips for lunch?
If you’ve had an acute illness or seasonal cold or flu or if you suffer from leaky gut or an autoimmune disease, this can also be the culprit. Maybe you have a low functioning thyroid or possibly depression. Some meds also can lower energy: blood pressure meds, statins, PPIs, benzodiazepines, antihistamines, antidepressants, and some diuretics.
Ongoing levels of chronic stress can also cause fatigue. Elevated cortisol or flipped cortisol patterns can lead to blood sugar imbalances and impact sleep and mood as well as motivation.
Ideas to improve energy that aren’t caffeine:
Eat whole foods with a balance of macronutrients at each meal. Limit highly refined foods completely. Breakfast is maybe a sweet potato and ground turkey hash with kale, lunch is a salad with protein and veggies, dinner is a pork loin with steamed carrots and a baked potato, and maybe a fruit protein smoothie. No more empty calories or bars! Processed foods are high in sugars and fake ingredients. Think fruit flavored yogurts with granola…. Processed foods cause a rapid increase in blood sugar followed by a crash which then creates MORE sugar cravings. You see where I’m going with this???
Eat meals not snacks. If you’ve worked with me 1:1 you’ve heard me say this over and over! Time in between meals will allow for digestion and let your insulin levels naturally decrease. If you feel hungry shortly after a meal it likely means you were short of protein or fiber. Are you getting 25g of fiber a day from whole foods and one g of protein a day per ideal body weight ?
GET MOVING. Physical activity even 20 min a day can improve energy and support better sleep. I know I go to the gym after work, and it gets me thru my “second shift”.
Stay hydrated. One ounce per half your body weight in ounces. True Lemon packets are great to add to water. Carry it everywhere you go. Get a Yeti to keep it cold. Dehydration can lessen energy, lower mood, and affect cognitive performance.
HORMONE CHECK. Hormones are one of the most popular causes of low energy, This can be disruptions in cortisol, thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone or insulin
POWER NAP. Not everyone has the ability to do this but if you can train yourself to take a 20 min nap you may feel revitalized the rest the day. Naps must be under 90 min and not within 8 hours of bedtime.
Most of us are magnesium deficient as well and a basic supplement can aid in relaxation and sleep.
In summary, if you have a cup of coffee a day and sleep great and have good energy by all means, ENJOY. However, if your sleep is suffering and you are dragging all day consider some of the above strategies, maybe even one at a time!
Keep Moving Forward 😊 Sarah
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